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Grenzflächen: Interaction Between Money And The World

Banks seem to have a way of thinking that is still stuck in the industrial age. This mindset consists primarily of delivering a finished „product“ that can be bought and consumed. All structures at the classic „manufacturer“ are geared to this; over decades he has perfected his structures to this end. So it’s not surprising that the product that comes out of it does one thing above all: reflect these structures. The product is intended from the logic of the bank, i.e. from the point of view of corporate strategy, product management and sales; but does it also fit the customer’s life? Does it find points of contact and links to the customer’s life?

In times of (long approaching) disruption, weltsparen.de, N26 and hybrid consumers, it is therefore worth taking a look at the relationship between customer and bank, taking a rather radical change of perspective and look at the bank from the outside.

What does the interface between a bank and the customer have to look like so that bank and customer can communicate permanently and fit together?

Grenzflächen – A term from physics

The term Grenzflächen is used in physics to describe the outer boundary of two materials and how they exchange. A good example in everyday life may be the surface tension of water and oil swimming on it. The two substances make an emulsion when shaken and a detergent reduces the surface tension.

The analogous question for a bank is how the surface of a bank i.e. the interface to the customer, should be designed so that there is a lively, meaningful exchange between the bank and its customers. Such a view of the contact between client and bank might lead us to a new perspectives that does not need structural terms such as channel or target group, solution or product.

Thinking banking from life

How could a sustainable change in the interface between customer and bank look like?

Let’s start with the question of how a customer establishes his own ideas and epectations. What are the topics that interest him? How is he changing his ideas about the world and what does this have to do with his contact into the bank?

The Bank knows a number of client interests on the basis of portfolio positions. Everyone who has a portfolio knows why. When buying a security, the customer most probably had an idea associated with an increase in value. Another assumption can be tested if the reader of these lines has a portfolio. How do portfolio positions influence news consumption? Do news about VW come to my attention when I have VW in my depot? It is safe to assume that customers use their investments as anchors for media selection.

How does the bank serve the customer’s interests?

A bank, in turn, sees a client’s portfolio positions as a series of products. Products have a security identification number or an ISIN. The customer receives further information such as mandatory notifications through the Bank’s homepage. Sometimes information is sent directly to the customer from the product issuer of a security.

The technical or regulatory communication with the client regarding his portfolio positions is extensive. Banks either leave this to the respective product issuer, or collect such documents of relevance to the customer and provide them with their own logo and sometimes the customer can choose whether to receive mail or prefer the download from his in-box on the bank’s customer platform.

Not only the product itself represents the bank’s view, but also the presentation of the product represents the bank’s view of the world rather than the customer’s view. For example, in the breakdown of the distribution of portfolio positions to specific asset classes. Which clients are interested to know they have 20% funds, 60% shares and 20% liquidity? Which customers are interested in the prospect of being 40% invested in Germany, 30% in Europe and 30% in emerging markets? I am not doubting that such breakdowns are intersting, but the question is: How does a bank know which breakdown interests which customer?

Without a customer-oriented breakdown, the bank is wasting an opportunity to take advantage of the orientation preference of the client’s portfolio positions. If the above hypothesis that the client’s portfolio represents his view of the world is correct, the bank can use its „interface“ in a new way. It serves the interests of customers with the help of their investments and binds them to the bank.

„News“ as stuff that holds the worlds together

An exemplary look at the content of news may serve as an explanation. If an article headline mentions VW, the publication medium or the author of the respective article uses the term VW in the headline to attract the attention of the readers. The key term provides orientation for the reader and ensures his attention. The content of the article is a story on the topic that announces VW, a story that conveys topicality about VW and makes VW tangible.

Back to the bank: The bank knows the topics that concern the customer. She knows the topics that interest the client not only on the basis of his individual investments, but also on the basis of the respective superordinate category terms. In simplified terms, the investment in VW can be broken down into various topics: DAX or Automotive.

How can the bank create loyalty on the basis of individual investments by the customer? With the help of the individual investment (in the example VW) and the superordinate category terms DAX and Automotive, the bank can play out suitable content, i.e. suitable publications. If those are up-to-date and precisely extracted from the flow of news, the customer’s attention and loyalty is attracted.

The interface of the bank becomes more open, resulting in a diverse exchange of topic-related information. It is an innovative way of making the diverse information noise of the modern world significant and tangible. The bank is seen by customers as modern because it can meet the needs of many customers for tailor-made services in a new way.

If you want to know how to create a network between people and banks in five stages of evolution, read my blog post „Digitalized customer loyalty as a step-by-step evolution“.

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